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The Buzz

Migration Watch: Hummingbird Action is Heating Up And You Can Chart Their Progress

(Photo courtesy of Paul Dacko)

It's an exciting time of year, when we're all looking for signs of spring and eagerly awaiting the return of ruby-throated hummingbirds. 

Thanks to Journey North — a project run by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum — we're keeping a close eye on the hummingbirds' progress as they head our way. In recent weeks, we've seen an explosion of activity in the south, with the northernmost sighting in Irmo, South Carolina.

So far, they're a little behind schedule compared to 2018. Last year at this point, they had made it as far as North Carolina. 

Here's where the current migration stands, according to all of the reports from Journey North's citizen scientists: 

According to last year's map, the first reported sighting in Illinois came on April 3 in Dongola. It took the ruby-throated hummingbirds nearly the entire month to make their way to Will County, with the first reported sighting coming April 28 in Wilmington.

Once they return in solid numbers in Will County, one of the most popular spots for viewing these tiny beauties is Plum Creek Nature Center in Crete Township. We often get questions about whether or not the hummingbirds have arrived and, while we can look to past trends, the project from Journey North eliminates a lot of guesswork for the current year.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds will migrate all the way up into Canada so, even if you spot one locally, that doesn't mean that particular bird is going to be sticking around and instead is just making a pit stop.

You can get involved

Becoming a citizen scientist and helping the folks at Journey North map the hummingbirds' progress is easy. 

Just sign up for an account and you're all set. It only takes a minute to submit your sighting. The data, which is submitted by more than 60,000 registered users in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, is used to better understand migratory species.

While you wait for their arrival ... 

Go ahead and enjoy these hummingbirds putting on a show last year at Plum Creek Nature Center. 


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